In case you’ve never been to this website before–welcome!–and let’s get you up to speed. Every time We discuss the 2006 Marie Antoinette film, the post is replete with champagne… and champagne glasses. More specifically, those of the birdbath variety: aka the coupé or sometimes “saucer” glass.
My brother Matt, who got into the family wine business right out of college, just despises the coupé glass, avering vehemently, “Dah! I hate those stupid boob glasses. All the bubbles just fly away.” Two siblings, two similes. I guess it makes sense that a guy would see it as breast-shaped; of course birdbath sounds infinitely more fun.
Some time after Matt’s wine-overlord commentary, We were researching the film’s birthday scene for Our “Throw Your Own Marie Antoinette Party” post. I found it wasn’t my brother’s sexual frustration speaking, (sorry, I had to do that.) There is some historic malarkey out there that Marie Antoinette had glasses molded in the exact shape of her left breast so all of Versailles could toast to her good health. Why specifically the left one? Guess that’s what makes it a bunch of bologna. The legend ranks right up there with “Let them eat cake.” Logically, why would a relatively shy, conservatively Catholic girl want the entire court drinking from replicas of her breast? The tale seems wildly out of character.
Lore of Malarkey
The historic malarkey–yes, that’s an official term–about the champagne glass being shaped after a queen’s breast is hardly unique to Marie Antoinette. (Of course, she’s the most famous of the queens accredited with such an endeavor. She’s got the worst reputation so that rumor would fit like a slipper.)
Diane de Poitiers
Check out the French Hood Diane’s rocking in the third from the left.
This same legend has been applied to Diane de Poitiers, courtesan at the French court and the favorite of King Henry II, much to Queen Catherine de Medici’s rage. (Fun fact: Diane and Catherine were cousins. That must have caused more friction. Diane de Poitiers lived from 1499 to 1566. Her beauty was legendary and many paintings of her are in the nude or at the very least topless. Maybe all the breasty-portraits led to legend that Diane was the culprit behind the coupé glass.
Madame Pompadour, properly Jean Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour was fourth favourite to Louis XV, they met at a masked ball shortyly after the death of his third favorite the duchesse de Châteauroux. She officially became his mistress in 1745 with the marquisate de Pompadour purchased for her. As a marquise she could now be presented at court. (Compare that with la comptess du barry…Louis didn’t buy that ninny a condado, he married her to the brother of her pimp. The nuptuals included a birth certificate faked by Jean-Basptiste himself, on which Jeanne Bécu is of noble birth and three years younger. Classy.) Unlike du Barry, Madame de Pompadour was disdained at Versailles; the courtiers thought it a disgrace that the king would debase himself with a commoner. She was also blamed for France’s brutal thrashing in the Seven Years War. Taking all that under your belt, it hardly seems likely that the gang at Versailles would be willing to drink from a glass shaped like her breasts, much less toast to her health.
then we have the Comtesse du Barry
The illegitamite daughter of a seamstress and a rumoured monk, Jeanne Bécu was a renowned beauty in the casino-dancer circuit. One particular employer, Jean Baptiste du Barry, casino owner and high class pimp (ooh. Like those things have ever been mutually exclusive?!) He installed her as a mistress in his house then helped her become the courtesan to the aristocracy. She met Louis XV “on an errand” in Versailles. She wrangled a presentment at court as la comtesse du Barry by marrying her pimp’s brother. The lovely comtesse had thick blonde curls and almond-shaped blue eyes and was a huge success at court. She emptied the treasury constructing spectacular dresses and lavishly peppering herself from head-to-toe with diamonds. Based on that logic, obliging Versailles to drink from your breast just sounds soooo du Barry.
other french women who were deemed champagne-breasted
Joséphine de Beauharnais is yet another woman to whom breast-shaped glasses are attributed. Shaping a glass after Josṕhine’s body seems like an idea of Napoleon. When on his way home from a battle, Napoleon implored Joséphine not to wash her private areas, as loved the smell so much. Essentally you can throw a rock at a French history book and hit a female aristocrat who may have been the breast to begin the glass. Well, you never hear Joan of Arc accused of such.
yep, she was jerking us around the whole time.As the coupe glass was invented in 1633 in England, none of these “attributions” are chronologically nor geographically inaccurate. Diane de Poitiers died years before the coupé glass was invented, Madame de Pompadour, du Barry and Marie Antoinette long after. This begs the question, who was queen of England in 1633? It was Henrietta Maria daughter of King Henry IV of France. She was the queen-consort of King Charles I. About that time, epicurian Charles de Saint Éveremond was “promoting” the champagne region. Some of his more illustrious customers–like the Dukes of Buckingham and Bedford–bought barrels at a time. For some years Henrietta Maria’s chief interests lay in the amusements of a gay and brilliant court. I can imagine Buckingham showing off his new oena-wunderkind at court; Henrietta most likely consumed champagne in her life, but I see no evidence of her supplying the shape of the glass. I like to think it was Queen Henrietta Marie, but the evidence is circumstantial at best. (I wonder I used that legal jargon correctly.)
The caste system of glasses
Truthfully, champagne had always been considered an aristocratic beverage and the type of glass used was indicative of status. Only the nobility drank from the coupe. The clergy drank their cava from Bordeau glasses, while the 3rd Estate drank from the simplest of wine glasses or whatever was concave enough to hold liquid. (I doubt this Internet factoid as well. Why would someone too poor to afford a glass–or bread!–be drinking Champagne? Never trust the Internet, unless it’s Tiaras and Trianon!)
If the coupé was the first glass made exclusively for champagne it’s strange that it was introduced in England. The sparkling type of champagne was en vogue with the English while across the Channel the French preferred theirs pale and still. Why invent a glass the geometrically ensures all the bubbles will dissipate in thirty seconds? Your blog hostess is at a loss on this one. Dead end.
Les jattes tetons
Marie Antoinette did have something modeled after the shape of her breasts and the proof still exists in the Musée National de Céramique de Sèvres in Paris. Les Jattes Tetons: porcelain milk bowls for the dairy in the Petit Hameau. Taking Rousseau’s philosophy out to an entirely new level, many would think the entire process of modeling any vessel after one’s anatomy repugnant or at the very least eccentric. Then again, building an entire mock village just for play is pretty eccentric too, so, yeah…it’s not that ridiculous in the larger context.Perhaps you’d be relieved to know that somebody eventually made a champagne glass based on a woman’s breast. In 2008, Dom Perignon introduced a coupé glass shaped after Claudia Schiffer’s mammaries. The glass itself was designed by Karl Lagerfeld (of Chanel fame) and was intended to celebrate the winery Moët & Chandon’s anniversary. Would you want people drinking out of something shaped after your body parts? If so, which one?